By Anya Bochman
To those unfamiliar with the term “maker culture,” the phrase may be ambiguous or confusing at first.
New Jersey Makers Day, an annual statewide celebration taking place in March, helps clarify the concept with designs and activities appearing in libraries, schools, museums, colleges and commercial “makerspaces.” According to the initiative’s website, the primary goal is “enhancing community engagement and facilitating connections between New Jersey residents.”
This mission is achieved by providing a time and place to showcase projects that range from robotics to yarnbombing – and to give credit to creators and tinkerers. The values of the day are strongly associated with STEM-based learning.
Joseph Emery of the Livingston Library described “maker culture” as a concept of creating and learning.
“Maker culture is about creativity and discovery, tinkering and learning new things in the process,” Emery said. “It’s the focus of our activities on Saturday, learning through creation.”
Livingston Library was planning its third annual Makers Day on Saturday, March 10, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Those attending expected to witness a robotics demonstration from two local robotics clubs, as well as interactive activities and crafts with LEGOs, electrical circuits and the toy product Slime. Attendance was free with no sign-up required.
In addition, the library will showcase its “Library of Things,” a collection of portable makerspace kits, also known as the “Ready, Set, Create!” toolkits and other borrowable items such as mobile hotspots and telescopes.
Last year, 350 people attended Livingston Library’s Makers Day, enjoying a variety of interactive activities that ranged from sewing and paper crafts to robotics and circuitry.
Emery explained that as a community, Livingston has a focus on education, a large part of which is STEM activities.
“There are multiple robotics teams in the community, a couple of which will be doing a demo for us on Saturday,” Emery said. “We’re expecting mostly families with elementary-age children for the event. One of the robotics teams is from the high school.”
Pointing out that in previous years, the turn out has ranged from 300 to 500 attendees, Emery predicted a similar attendance this year. According to the librarian, students will be helping with organizing the activities in addition to partaking in the fun. He emphasized the community aspect of Makers Day and maker culture.
“Some of the activities are funded by the library and some are volunteer-run,” Emery stated. “Community reaction to Makers Day has been great. We’ve always had an excellent turn out and people are always clamoring for more tech programs.”
To find out more about New Jersey Makers Day, residents are encouraged to visit www.njmakersday.org. Those interested in Livingston Library’s celebration of the event can contact the library at 973-992-4600, Ext. 250, or visit livingstonlibrary.org.
“We want the library to be a place where Livingston residents are inspired to reach their creative potential,” said Amy Babcock Landry, library director. “We feel that New Jersey Makers Day is the perfect opportunity to promote that idea.”
The event is open to participants of all ages; activities have been designed for grades three and above, while supplies last.